Atlas Shrugged, Net Neutrality, and Government Controlled Science

March 19th, 2015 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

The Ministry of Truth: Where all climate science will be controlled for the public good.

The Ministry of Truth: Where all climate science will be controlled for the public good.

There’s an amazing article by Robert Tracinski at TheFederalist.com which draws powerful parallels between Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and what we are seeing today with increasing government regulation.

It uses the latest Net Neutrality push and government attempts to shut down private funding of climate science as just the latest examples of a trend which is destroying competition… and ultimately prosperity. Crony capitalist elements of big business trying to seek competitive advantage by encouraging the government regulation end up finding themselves beholden to their government masters as a result.

I know this is all nothing new…I was just a little taken aback to realize that those of us who are skeptical of assertions there’s a “climate crisis” in need of government intervention and control are now players in the game, as a few in Congress try to intimidate us.

Al Gore has just announced the need to punish climate-change deniers…as if anyone denies that climate changes. Sheesh. Even we admit that humans have some influence on climate. But (1) the human portion is highly uncertain, and (2) we can’t do anything significant about it anyway without killing millions of people in the process.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media dutifully allows such perverted reframing of the terms of the debate to go unchallenged. Here’s John Christy’s response to that intimidation, published yesterday.

The Federalist article is well worth the read, especially for those familiar with Atlas Shrugged.


30 Responses to “Atlas Shrugged, Net Neutrality, and Government Controlled Science”

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  1. RW says:

    Boy, it’s a crazy world out there. What concerns me the most is most people don’t seem the slightest bit troubled by any of this when it should actually be profoundly disturbing.

  2. Bob Weber says:

    Well said Roy. The universal groupthink is being enforced by thought-policeman such as Gore, with the aim to eradicate “thought-crimes” like climate skepticsm, by taking “pre-crime” prevention measures such as this attack from Gore. Orwell would be proud.

  3. jimc says:

    Like all the progressive’s terms (fairness, affordable, tolerance, choice, etc.), net neutrality means the opposite.

    • Lewis says:

      War means Peace

      So we have, instead of a Department of War, a Department of Defense.

      We have a Dept. of Education which means a Dept of Banality

      We have the politically incorrect being forced to suffer Sensitivity Training – more exactly – indoctrination.

      SWAT Teams are for the purpose of killing the citizens, not protecting them.

      The list is long – the results onerous. The reason the people are not upset is because they have a steady supply of pizza, beer, sports and television. Those who dare rise up – ie TEA Parties, scientists, or businesses are demeaned by the sycophant press or, if necessary, crushed by agents of government.

  4. dave says:

    Not sure why you use a picture of the Senate House of the University of London, as exemplifying the Ministry of Truth!

  5. Bart says:

    The soi disant intelligentsia look down their noses at anyone professing to have even glanced at Ayn Rand’s signature novel in anything approaching a serious light. It is, they sniff, a fable of stunted development, an empty adolescent boast of self-reliance in a world in which one is rarely as in control of one’s destiny as one might like to believe.

    Just the other night, I watched an episode of “Elementary”, a show I quite enjoy in general, in which Sherlock dismissed a reader of Atlas Shrugged as an intellectual lightweight. Well then, it’s settled, isn’t it? I mean, Sherlock is a really smart guy. Of course, he’s a fictional character, but still…

    To some degree, the criticism is apt. At some point in life, I realized I was no superman, and even if I could generally manage to prosper and move forward, those I loved and cared for were not always so invulnerable, and I greatly appreciated the intervention of The State in shoring up their foundering fortunes, which were beyond my resources to rescue.

    But, there has to be a balance. Just because The State sometimes does good does not mean it should be unfettered. And, cringe-inducing as some of Rand’s bombast is, she really nailed many aspects of The State Uber Alles mindset. Rereading selected passages over the past 6 years, I have sometimes been astounded at how closely some of her characters’ vapid utterances matched the latest gibberish issuing from Washington.

    Ayn Rand ably identified and cataloged several pathologies which, apparently, are endemic to the collective human psyche, and which advance and recede periodically. If her most ardent devotees are intellectually stunted, then the same holds equally true for her most vociferous detractors. In recent history, we have witnessed a forward march of the pathologies she recorded. We can only hope the spring tide has passed, and the neap is in the offing.

  6. Thanks, Dr. Spencer. And Dr. Christy.
    Please continue to speak truth to power.
    Ayn Rand was right, and the time is now.
    We cannot control climate, not by CO2 or any other way. The greatest CO2 reservoir is the global ocean and it will do as it does, controlled by currents and the myriad of natural forces that rule its behavior.

    • JohnKl says:

      Hi Andres Valencia,

      You stated:

      “The greatest CO2 reservoir is the global ocean and it will do as it does, controlled by currents and the myriad of natural forces that rule its behavior.”

      The release and/or absorption of CO2 seems governed by temperature, not the other way around.

      Have a great day!

  7. geran says:

    “Even we admit that humans have some influence on climate.”
    **********

    Lake Erie drains into Lake Ontario via Niagara (et al) Falls. So, if a man pours a cup of water into Lake Erie, I guess we could say that he had “some influence” on the level of Lake Erie, huh?

    • Roy Spencer says:

      yup. basic physics.

      • geran says:

        The problem is that even some readers of this great blog do not grasp the “basic physics”. Too often the continual referral to “humans” and “influence” indicate that there is some validity to AGW. Humans have NO significant impact on Earth’s climate.

        That’s the advantage of being an engineer. If “impact” is many orders of magnitude below anything measurable, we get to disregard it. It’s called “living in the real world”.

  8. stevek says:

    “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” – Ronald Reagan

  9. JohnKl says:

    Hi Roy,

    Years ago I read many of her books. While I believe she’s mistaken in some things her analysis on many issues proves spot on. For example:

    Ecology as a social principle . . . condemns cities, culture, industry, technology, the intellect, and advocates men’s return to “nature,” to the state of grunting subanimals digging the soil with their bare hands.

    “The Lessons of Vietnam,”
    The Ayn Rand Letter, III, 25, 1

    “An Asian peasant who labors through all of his waking hours, with tools created in Biblical times—a South American aborigine who is devoured by piranha in a jungle stream—an African who is bitten by the tsetse fly—an Arab whose teeth are green with decay in his mouth—these do live with their “natural environment,” but are scarcely able to appreciate its beauty. Try to tell a Chinese mother, whose child is dying of cholera: “Should one do everything one can? Of course not.” Try to tell a Russian housewife, who trudges miles on foot in sub-zero weather in order to spend hours standing in line at a state store dispensing food rations, that America is defiled by shopping centers, expressways and family cars.”

    “The Left: Old and New,”
    Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, 166

    “In Western Europe, in the preindustrial Middle Ages, man’s life expectancy was 30 years. In the nineteenth century, Europe’s population grew by 300 percent—which is the best proof of the fact that for the first time in human history, industry gave the great masses of people a chance to survive.

    If it were true that a heavy concentration of industry is destructive to human life, one would find life expectancy declining in the more advanced countries. But it has been rising steadily. Here are the figures on life expectancy in the United States (from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company):

    1900
    47.3 years
    1920
    53 years
    1940
    60 years
    1968
    70.2 years (the latest figures compiled)
    Anyone over 30 years of age today, give a silent “Thank you” to the nearest, grimiest, sootiest smokestacks you can find.”

    Thank you for the post, and have a great day!

    • dave says:

      I ca’n’t remember where it was – but I liked a cartoon a few years ago. It showed a couple of stone-age men lolling on a hillside, somewhere. One is musing, “We live in a lovely environment, we eat a varied diet with no additives, we get plenty of exercise, we are pretty much top-predator now, the girls do all the work – and yet none of us makes it past thirty!”

  10. Chris Hanley says:

    Rand’s novella Anthem (1937) is also worth reading, despite being heavy going (IMHO), because it is an eerie prophesy of the nightmare world that would result from Deep Green policies.

  11. Al Gore makes tons of money from “Global Warming” with the Generational Investments Fund:
    https://www.generationim.com/
    They are trading emission certificates.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2013/11/03/blood-and-gore-making-a-killing-on-anti-carbon-investment-hype/

  12. Bil Danielson says:

    Roy,

    I am heartened by your hat tip to the Tracinski article directly, and by implication Ms Rand. I also understand that you would not fully embrace or share her metaphysics. So, I am impressed you would highlight this here on your blog!

    Where most people and commentators regarding Rand fail miserably is in not performing the intellectual heavy lifting and due diligence of study that is required in order to fully comprehend and appreciate her views. People should keep in mind that in order for her to define, explain, and present the powerful concepts in her novels (particularly Atlas, but also other works) she had to become a philosopher of the highest order. And she did. And the philosophic principles she developed were (and still are) groundbreaking, controversial, and difficult for many to get their intellectual arms around.

    While appearing abstract at first blush on the surface, upon analysis and study reveal an incredible depth of intellectual thought. Those who argue that her philosophy is somehow “lightweight” or sophomoric need to read University of Texas’ Tara Smith’s 2006 scholarly work entitled Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist. IMHO this book (among others in addition to Atlas and Fountainhead) is required reading for anyone to be taken seriously who would dare critique her views. Frankly, there are very very few in the public sphere with the intellectual resume and requisite study to do so in a meaningful way.

    One simply cannot argue that her philosophy is fundamentally flawed. You can argue you don’t like it, or that to embrace it would be difficult or inconvenient, but on many fundamentals she was spot-on. Whatever flaws (and there are flaws) there are in her views they pale in comparison to the hardly-baked criticisms she receives all to often by the seemingly ceaseless detractors masquerading as serious intellectuals. The vast majority of whom simply have not taken the time to fully grasp and digest the scope and depth of her startling integration and understanding of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics.

    As regards climate change, it is not surprising to note that one of her favorite quotes was the famous aphorism by Francis Bacon that, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” It relevant here because nature, real nature (not loaded/biased models of it), is the judge of final appeal – the elemental term setter. Her philosophy clearly delineated between the primacy of existence (which she clearly embraced) verses the primacy of conscience. The former is the path taken by honest (skeptical, if I may) scientists. The latter taken by those who refuse to challenge their own premises and investigate all angles and aspects of a scientific phenomena heretofore unexplained. Point being the atmosphere, its components, how it warms, cools, and changes with time to affect the inhabitants on earth is an incredibly complex system. It is nature as we see it daily. Bacon’s point should not be taken lightly here! Those who have the nerve to declare man is in control of/responsible for climate change carry the onus of proof. They must show conclusively how this can be, and include all possibilities not the least of which is/are natural forces. To exclude nature itself in analyzing climate change is a contradiction hardly to be matched, yet this is the primacy of conscience rearing its ugly and irrational head in spades, and is clearly embraced by many in the ACGW crowd.

    There’s much to learn from Ms Rand, and much we will only appreciate in hindsight. As regards the climate, were she to be alive to day, I suspect she would argue that what is required is a full, complete, and honest understanding to the best of man’s ability of all the effects (natural and man-contributed). Armed with such information then, act accordingly keeping the individual rights of people foremost in the calculus.

    • JohnKl says:

      Hi Bill Danielson,

      You state in part:

      “Where most people and commentators regarding Rand fail miserably is in not performing the intellectual heavy lifting and due diligence of study that is required in order to fully comprehend and appreciate her views. People should keep in mind that in order for her to define, explain, and present the powerful concepts in her novels (particularly Atlas, but also other works) she had to become a philosopher of the highest order. And she did. And the philosophic principles she developed were (and still are) groundbreaking, controversial, and difficult for many to get their intellectual arms around.”

      Having read much of her work both fiction, non-fiction, her acolytes like Leonard Piekoff, ex-Fed Chairman Greenspan and so many others and supposedly objectivist epistemology I can only conclude from this statement that you haven’t done much study yourself. Her writings stake her philosophical premises to the extent they exist on Aristotelian epistemology and on two primary axioms and/or arguments. The Law of Identity or Non Contradiction and the argument of the Prime Mover. In attempting to follow one she ignores the other. How? Well she attempts to buttress an athiestic pseudo intellectual cult in non-contradictory logic by staking her claim on the Aristotelian argument of the EXISTENCE OF THE PRIME MOVER WHICH IS A DIRECT ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF AN IMMOVABLE MOVER OR GOD!!! In her writings however the prime mover argument largely ignores the God part central to the entire argument, simultaneously claims to be based on Aristotle’s logic then flips again and simply becomes some vague mish-mash supporting the creative genius of business people. While individual creative genius mirrors the creator that is not what the argument fundamentally concerns. The terms “cognitive dissonance” and “hubris” only scratch the surface when it comes to her philosophy.

      You later state:

      “One simply cannot argue that her philosophy is fundamentally flawed.”

      Yes you can and I just successfully showed how. I would be happy to go into further discussion if you’d like. After admitting her logic to be flawed you continue:

      “The vast majority of whom simply have not taken the time to fully grasp and digest the scope and depth of her startling integration and understanding of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics.”

      All her understanding as this statement indicates came from other philosophers, writers, ethicists, economist etc. Their exists nothing in her ethical and economic thinking that hasn’t already been explored in much greater depth by individual such as Aristotle, Carl Menger (an actual intellectual who enormously changed human understanding of economics), Adam Smith, and others. Her writing confused as it proves to be doesn’t hold the rigor she seeks. As to individual rights, etc. she does have much to offer those seeking understanding in that area but only in so far as she stakes her premises and arguments on the works of others before her. She originated nothing in this regard accept a desire to put man qua man above everything.

      You go on:

      “There’s much to learn from Ms Rand, and much we will only appreciate in hindsight.”

      On this point, I actually agree. Her case for individual rights in fiction and non-fiction proves un-relenting and strong if at times contradictory. Her historical research on the history of capitalism proves in depth and fascinates any sensible reader who pursues much of it in depth. Thanks for the post and have a great day!

      • JohnKl says:

        Just a point of clarification to my post above. My statement claims no contradiction between the Law of Identity and the argument of The Prime Mover, and far as I can tell none exists. The contradiction’s in Ms. Rand’s philosophy would be her own.

        Have a great day!

  13. John West says:

    But (1) the human portion is highly uncertain, and (2) we can’t do anything significant about it anyway without killing millions of people in the process.

    And (3) the benefits are systemically unacknowledged while the damages are momentously exaggerated.

  14. Ulric Lyons says:

    It’s a sandcastle, it’ll get washed away with with a tidal wave of new climate science insights, which will show their models to be inside out and upside down. Namely, evidence of solar forcing of natural variability of all teleconnections and oceanic modes, and that they have the polar see-saw the wrong way round.

  15. Steve says:

    The best rebuttal is our children being educated to think for themsleves, and to question everything. Questioning is anathema to the NWO crowd.

    Keeping an open mind ( i.e. the science is never settled ) is key to maintaining balance in a world dominated by lame leftist group think.

  16. Atomic Hairdryer says:

    What the article is talking about is basic regulatory capture and rent-seeking. That’s common to many industries but has some interesting parallels in telecomms and monetising climate change. When Enron went bust, why did it own so much forest? Why did Ebbers buy so much woodland? But that was in the day when offsetting was the next big thing.

    On the net neutrality debate, it’s about solving a problem that existed in Arrhenius’s day. The telephone got invented, lots of competing companies sprang up to supply services and there was much debate around who pays. Eventually that created a settlement system, so costs and revenues were shared. Fast forward and we have a world where everything should be equal, and the right to make a 911 call while a Netflix premier is occuring is going to have to be best efforts. Good luck.

    On the climate side, regulatory capture has given us energy policies that make little sense, but may resolve some potential future harm. Ignore the present harm due to inefficiency or rising costs, it’s a public good. Billions have been spent in lobbying efforts to convince us that this is true. So we’ve had the exciting eclipse, but not too many people asking about the effect on a solar power strategy. In the future, our economic performance will depend on the wind and the sun. Much as it did prior to Arrhenius’s birth.

    This is progress.

    But on a more positive note, the regulatory capture has required a scientific basis. So money has been spent on instrumentation and research so we can better understand the world we live on, and some scientists are still trying the best they can to explain that to us. Keep up the good work!

  17. c1ue says:

    I’d just like to note that the net neutrality issue is far less about “freedom” than it is about large internet traffic companies like Youtube and Netflix not having to pay more of their profits to the companies that actually provide the bulk of the core internet traffic services.
    This isn’t a case of nice, happy, freedom loving types on the one hand vs. evil corporations on the other – it is more like Alien vs. Predator.
    The sad reality is that the US has pretty much the worst internet speeds of the entire 1st and a good part of the 2nd world. A lot of this is because of the deregulation of the telecom and cable industries – and has nothing to do whatsoever with net neutrality or not. If Comcast chooses to charge more to Netflix – is that an abrogation of freedoms or Netflix free riding on the common good of the Internet’s structure?
    Personally I suspect it is a little of both.
    My problem with the net neutrality issue is that it is a secondary problem to one of net affordability, ubiquity, and performance – and I’d rather see a hoohaw over those issues.